The state has renewed a grant to the District Attorney's office here to continue funding an assistant prosecutor who specializes in cases against people accused of drunken driving.
Somewhat more than $129,000 for the position held by Assistant District Attorney Richard Cawley and supporting costs were recently announced by the Governor's Highway Safety Office directed by Kendell Poole for Gov. Phil Bredesen.
"Driving under the influence is one of Tennessee's most preventable crimes," Gov. Bredesen said in a prepared release. "An increased rate of conviction for DUI drivers will ... help keep our roads safe."
District Attorney Chuck Crawford agreed.
"It's been very successful," Crawford said. "Richard Cawley is ... earning his keep. He does a great job on DUI cases."
The Highway Safety Office grants are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and, in Tennessee, they're administered by the Transportation Department led by Commissioner Gerald Nicely.
These grants help police and prosecutors "establish a tracking system to improve analysis, which will lead to stronger cases," Nicely said. That decreases the number of reduced or dismissed DUI charges.
State Rep. Curt Cobb (D-Shelbyville) said "Too many families have lost loved ones to drunk drivers," so he supported the District Attorney's application for the grant's continuation.
Crawford said the new money continues an effort started by his predecessor, Mike McCown, the recently-retired state prosecutor in the 17th Judicial District that includes Bedford, Marshall, Lincoln and Moore counties.
In addition to the $3.2 million granted to 18 judicial districts, the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference received a grant of nearly $498,000 to train prosecutors and police so testimony will lead to more convictions.